How to write your Tendulkar tribute
In a week in which every man, woman, child and beast is putting pen to paper or hoof to keyboard to pay tribute to Sachin Tendulkar, there's only one thing left to do - and that's write about writing about Sachin Tendulkar.
I can tell you from experience that it is no easy task. Everyone has something to say on the subject, and for that very reason, there is very little left worth saying. There are few angles or niches which haven't been fully explored.
But there are column inches to fill. If you're staring at a blank Word doc, here are the six main categories of Sachin tribute you can explore.
He's a genius
Sachin Tendulkar's genius is best expressed by the fact that he has scored runs against everyone, everywhere, in every format, for 25 years. With that in mind, why not identify one extraordinarily specific thing and focus on that? The more trivial, the better. The perfect story would probably be that your father saw him play a leg glance when he was nine years old, and on the basis of that one shot alone, knew - just knew - that he was going to be the best batsman ever.
If there's an unexplored angle on Tendulkar, it's here. However, this is a very dangerous route to take. Even going so far as to ask why no one is criticising the Little Master could be considered crossing the line by many. I am skirting dangerously close to the line by floating the possibility that someone else might think about questioning why there hasn't been more criticism.
Another difficult one, if only because the reader's brain is likely to be eroded by the relentless barrage of very, very big numbers. By the time they get to the end of the article, they'll no longer have any frame of reference. Suresh Raina is a big name and he has hit 100 fours in Test cricket. Sachin Tendulkar has hit the same number of international hundreds. The scale is simply too vast for the human brain to comprehend. On the plus side, there's plenty of data to work with, so you could perhaps try and sum up his career through analysis of second-innings runs scored backward of square on the leg side off left-arm pace bowlers on a Sunday.
Sachin as representative of the nation
If you're feeling ambitious, you can try and draw parallels between Sachin Tendulkar's career and the rise of modern India. If you set things up correctly, you can spend the second half of the article describing one of his innings and the reader will draw all sorts of conclusions about the state of the economy without your actually having to go to the trouble of providing any facts or opinions.
Many would-be writers pride themselves on the floweriness of their prose. At a moist-eyed time like this, these people scoop up great armfuls of adjectives and pepper the page with them. There's something faintly unnerving about reading these florid paeans to high left elbows and supple, flowing drives. It's also odd that the most gushing examples always seem to focus on match six of some long-forgotten tri-nation series.
My experience of Tendulkar
This time it's personal. Everyone has their own Tendulkar story to tell, but this one's yours and therefore far more important than anyone else's. Ideally, you'll be a team-mate or former opponent, offering some insight. However, you could just as easily be a journalist recounting how honoured you were to be in the press box on particular day, or a fan describing what it felt like to sit at home watching the great man score 57 not out on the telly. Maybe you're a 35-year-old marketing professional who doesn't even like cricket; maybe you're a ring-tailed lemur or a capybara - everyone has a personal experience that can and should be shared with the world. Sachin Tendulkar will only retire once, after all.
Alex Bowden blogs at King Cricket